§ 13 and 14. Major M'CALMONT
asked the Secretary of State for War (1) how many officers constituted the committee upon whose advice the recently ordered changes in the Royal Field Artillery were decided upon; and how many of those officers had served in Royal Field Artillery batteries; and (2) whether the recent decision to abolish Royal Field Artillery batteries with war records to their credit was arrived at in order to save travelling expenses; and whether the possibility of transferring a nucleus of such batteries to new stations, taking with them their old numbers and records, was considered as an alternative?
15. Major STANLEY
asked whether the committee of Artillery officers who devised the proposed scheme for reducing certain batteries were given a free hand to settle on the best scheme they could frame, or Whether they were told to consider only two schemes and to decide which was the least objectionable?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Colonel Seely)
In order to maintain efficiency quite apart from the question of expense, it is necessary either that the numbers should remain as they are, or that the exchange of numbers referred to in Army Orders should be carried out. The only reason for changing numbers was the desire of the Artillery themselves that batteries with distinguished records should form part of the Expeditionary Force, and should not become part of the Training Brigades which do not go to war. After the fullest consideration, it was decided that the Artillery would be best pleased with the exchange of numbers laid down in Army Orders. This will accordingly be effected, but it must be clearly understood that what is involved is, in effect, a change of stations rather than a change of numbers. In order to still further satisfy Artillery sentiment, arrangements will be made for a nucleus to be transferred with the records, so as to preserve continuity of history.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the first paragraph of Question 15 as to whether the committee of Artillery officers who devised the proposed scheme for reducing certain batteries were given a free hand?
§ Coloney SEELY
I have dealt with that in my answer. In order to obtain efficiency these were the only alternatives —either to renumber the batteries, which is, in effect, to change the stations, or to leave the numbers as they are.
§ Colonel SEELY
I could not say at once. I think the House will be satisfied that we have endeavoured to meet the very natural desire of the Artillery to retain its continuity by maintaining an adequate nucleus.
§ Colonel SEELY
The numbers of the Artillery is a matter quite apart from this question. I shall be glad to deal with them in the Debate.